Norwegian Jewel Cruise Review by Lisa R: Norwegian Jewel - Eastern Mediterranean
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Norwegian Jewel - Eastern Mediterranean
I just returned from a 12 night cruise in the Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Egypt and Turkey). I am not a person who cruises often as I prefer to do things on my own schedule, rather than the dictates of the ship's schedule. So, I went into this trip a bit of trepidation. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
Embarkation/debarkation - very smooth. When we arrived at the port in Athens, the waiting line was described to us as "terrible." When we asked what that meant, it meant about 1/2 hour . . . not terrible to me. Our luggage was not in the room when we got to it, as was the case for some, but it was there within 10 minutes of our arrival. Debarkation was a breeze, but we did the express debarkation. Judging by the massive piles of luggage outside of the ship as we left, the cruise organized debarkation may be a nightmare. If you can carry your luggage off and have arranged private airport transfers (which we were glad we did), I highly recommend using More the express option.
The ship - very nice. It is obviously new and has all modern conveniences. Our room, an inside stateroom, was small, but the storage was designed in a thoughtful manner that made the room quite functional despite its small size. The housekeeping staff were great - they quickly learned our preferences (extra pillows, blankets, etc) and made sure everything was just as we liked it each night. Highspeed internet was available, which was nice. However, the internet cafe is small - only about 10 computers. Nonetheless, the longest wait for a computer was about 10 minutes, and usually there was no wait. I suspect the cost of internet access (.40 - .75 per minute depending on package purchased) kept computer-hogging to a minimum.
Food - was good, particularly at the specialty restaurants. We had very little trouble getting reservations, despite th ship's full capacity. The only negative was the "buffets", which were not really buffets as we know them here in the US. They were set up as buffets, but you did not serve yourself. Rather, you had to have the food placed on your plate by the staff, which were grossly understaffed for this function. I am certain that this set-up is for sanitation reasons (which they are obsessive with on this ship), but it made the dining experience frustrating and inefficient.
Entertainment - I really did not do a lot of this, as it is not my thing. But I heard from other travelers that the entertainment on board was good. One note about the "informative" lectures (offered in regard to certain ports of call) - we attended the one on Cairo. It was not particularly informative . . . basically was a sales pitch for the cruise excursions. And they are broadcast in the rooms on a repeated basis, so do not waste your time sitting in the theater for this.
Ports of call - this particular itinerary was excellent. There really is no comparable itinerary on any other ship that we could find. We enjoyed all of the ports of call.
Excursions - good and bad. On the shorter stops, the cruise excursions were really the best option for timing reasons. However, if you have the time, privately arranged excursions are, in my opinion, the way to go. We did the cruise excursions in Corfu, Olympia, and Cairo. If I had it to do all over again, I would probably rent a car in Corfu and just explore the island. The cruise excursions in Olympia and Cairo were good and convenient. Particularly the "Cairo Overnight" package - from talking to other passengers who did not do this excursion, I would describe this one as a necessity. It was terrific, comprehensive, interesting, and well organized, including a lot of security which as nice under the circumstances. The only downside is limited time at the sights, particularly the pyramids, due to the amount of activity crammed into this one. But we heard that the other excursions were equally limited in time, unless you booked a private tour, which I personally would uncomfortable doing in this city. We did not do excursions in Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos, and were happy that we did not - they are easily explored on your own by bus or taxi (we made a last minute decision to rent a car in mykonos, which worked out well for exploring the beaches of the island). We booked private excursions through Ekol Travel in Turkey (Esphesus and Istanbul) and were very pleased that we did so - they were more informative and efficient than the cruise excursions, and in total, were less expensive that the cruise excursions. We also booked our airport transfer in Istanbul through this company - it was the same price as the cruise transfer, but was a private van rather than the craziness of a bus full of people that the cruise transfer involved.
Overall atmosphere - very pleased. It was a good experience and I would go again. Less
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